Friday, October 27, 2017

How to keep your voice in a Marvel movie

After the infamous episode with Edgar Wright and Ant-Man, fans, critics and other related observers rightly wondered if any director of any Marvel movie would ever be able to let his (or her) freak flag fly, or whether they would all just be neutered down to some version of whatever the studio wanted.

Well, Taika Waititi has kept his voice in Thor: Ragnarok alright -- in part by doing that literally.

Waititi voices a rock-like creature called Korg in one of the funniest aspects of an incredibly funny movie, which had me not only snickering, but bursting out in gales of joyous laughter. In this one character, Waititi has encapsulated everything you could want to encapsulate about the clipped and humorous line deliveries that are unique to people from New Zealand, as well as everything that illustrates his own perspective as a director.

Say "Hi," Korg.

Waititi has done it with Thor: Ragnarok, however you want to define "it." He has made the best comic book movie set in space. He has given a jolt of life to probably the most disappointing Marvel franchise. And most of all, he has let his freak flag fly up, down, and all over this movie.

Eccentricity oozes from every pore of Thor: Ragnarok, all within the recognizable parameters of a Marvel movie. The idea behind hiring someone like Waititi is to do exactly what's been done in this movie. You want a director to freshen up material that has inevitably started to bear a resemblance to earlier incarnations of itself, and Waititi has done that and then some. In certain very real ways, and without more than a small amount of hyperbole, this movie doesn't resemble anything that has come before it.

Simply put, I loved it. It's wild and woolly and shaggy and hilarious and joyous. It doesn't play by the rules. Of course, that sometimes means it's all over the place, and there are certain things we just didn't need (Dr. Strange, anyone?). But the amount we need the totality of Thor: Ragnarok overrides any of the smaller aspects we don't need.

It's not just funny. It's also an awesome spectacle, a triumph of special effects, a dazzling display of filmmaking techniques and imagination, and a damn fine usage of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" -- not once but twice.

The purpose of this post should not and will not be to enumerate the film's wonderful surprises, dear American reader, if that's who you are. When I saw it Thursday night, I knew I had at least a day on you -- turns out I've got more than a week. You won't get to see it until next Friday, and you deserve to be surprised by whatever parts of this film you haven't seen in the trailers.

Just know: It's a helluva good time.

And the way Waititi brings it home, with a good share (if not all) of his personal directorial style intact, will hopefully be a model for future such weird variations on our all-too-familiar blockbusters.

All hail Thor, and all hail Waititi.

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